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Rock’s sovereignty ‘will never be a bargaining chip’ in any negotiation, Picardo tells UN

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo addressing the United Nations' Committee of 24

Gibraltar is not, nor will it ever be, a “bargaining chip on any negotiating table” while it navigates the complexities of negotiations for a Brexit treaty, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the United Nations’ Committee of 24 [C24] in New York on Monday.

Mr Picardo and a delegation from Gibraltar including the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia were in New York to once again set out Gibraltar’s position on self-determination.

In his address, the Chief Minister reflected Gibraltar’s unwavering position on self-determination as he appeared before the committee for the twelfth time as Chief Minister.

“The journey of the Gibraltarians, like that of many other peoples, has been far from smooth,” Mr Picardo said.

“But through every tribulation, through every uncertainty, there has remained that one constant.”

“The indomitable will of the Gibraltarians to determine our own destiny, to shape our own future, to hold fast to our chosen, desired and cherished sovereignty and identity.”

The Chief Minister said that while he remains in Government, there will be “no concessions” on Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

“And although we are a thriving democracy this is not an issue in our politics,” Mr Picardo said.

“Because our homeland is not, nor will it ever be, a bargaining chip on any negotiating table.”

“Indeed, we are currently navigating the complexities of the negotiations for a treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union.”

“Yet we do so with our eyes wide open, our resolve unshaken, our principles unbroken.”

“We seek, and will continue to seek, a treaty that respects our past, acknowledges our present, and secures our future.”

“A treaty that honours our unique history and position and does not compromise one iota of our sovereignty.”

“And we are negotiating from the application of the highest standards of transparency in inter-government relations.”

“The highest standards of outcomes on matters affecting sustainability and the environment.”

“And the most fluid movement of people and goods between us and the EU and Spain in a manner that delivers massive mutual benefit, securing our economic stability and growth and spreads prosperity to the people of the region around us.”

“We have not yet been able to finalise those treaty arrangements, although we keep working towards that goal.”


The address to the C24 this year was “forged in the crucible of those forces of our history, honed by the challenges of our present politics and bearing the hope of our beloved children’s future”, Mr Picardo said.

The Chief Minister said his ultimate goal was to “deliver for [Gibraltar’s] children and its neighbours’ children in equal measure”.

He said it was also 60 years since Gibraltar first appeared before the United Nations’ Committee of 24 in 1963.

“It was 12 years ago, almost to the day, when I first addressed this esteemed Committee,” Mr Picardo said.

“I am here again, with the same conviction, the same passion, and the same unwavering belief in the right to self-determination of the Gibraltarian people.”

“For 12 years I have stood before you to assert that same message that I impress upon you today.”

“Just like every Chief Minister of Gibraltar before me in those sixty years.”

“That our right of self-determination is as inalienable as it is indisputable.”

“And the conviction that it is so thrives in every Gibraltarian and in every corner of Gibraltar, from the top of our iconic rock to the bustling waters that surround it and the airspace above and around it.”

Mr Picardo said Gibraltar is “clear that the practical operation of the principles of self-determination and territorial integrity reflected in General Assembly Resolution 1514 can only lead to one conclusion”.

“That the Gibraltarians are the only masters of the destiny of Gibraltar,” he added.

“Because we have the right to freely determine our political status and freely to pursue our economic, social and cultural development as specifically set out in that resolution.”

“Because our plea for self-determination does not stand alone, but is anchored in the principles of international law, which also require respect for the territorial integrity of Gibraltar during the decolonisation process.”

“Because resolution 1514 is international law, and it does not permit external interference with our right to self-determination or our territorial integrity.”

“And yet, despite having international law on our side, our path to decolonisation has not been an easy one and remains a work in progress.”


On the issue of self-determination, Mr Picardo said he was in attendance before the C24 to “keep alive the burning flame of [his] people’s hope”.

“Hope, that despite the challenges, our aspirations will not be denied, because they cannot be,” Mr Picardo said.

“That our voices will not be silenced, because they never will be.”

“And that our rights will not be undermined, because they must not be.”

“Hope that the arc of the universe does indeed bend towards justice.”

“Because there is one incontestable truth.”

“That the right to self-determination is not a privilege reserved for the large and the mighty.”

The Chief Minister said it is a “universal right” applicable to the people of Gibraltar as it is to any other non-self-governing territory that falls within the UN Charter.

He said Gibraltar’s size “does not determine the legitimacy of our people’s aspirations”.

He appealed to the Committee, which has frequently stood up for small and relatively powerless territories, adding that this is why he respected the work of the Committee of 24.

“The Committee of 24 was created with a noble purpose,” Mr Picardo said in his appeal to the Chair of the Committee of 24, Menissa Rambally, of St Lucia.

“To assist territories in achieving decolonisation.”

“And you have made significant progress.”

“But not with us.”

“I urge the Committee to engage with us and to fulfil your mandate.”

Mr Picardo repeated his words from last year, that the “worst form of colonialism would be to ignore [Gibraltar’s] voice”, and to deny its “undiluted right” to self-determination.

“Do not aid or abet the recolonization of Gibraltar by a foreign power by failing to accept the obvious factual and legal truth,” he added.

“That the Gibraltarians exclusively will decide Gibraltar’s future.”

“This is our inalienable right under international law, and this Committee should acknowledge this and deal with it.”

“Please be very clear that the fire to fight for that recognition is a flame that burns brightly inside me.”

“Inside us.”

“And it is a flame that burns in the heart of every Gibraltarian of all partisan complexions and of all ages.”

Mr Picardo said there is “no question of Gibraltar”, as the UN session was named, given Spain gave away Gibraltar over 300 years ago “in perpetuity”.

“There is no question of asking for the return of what they have given away,” Mr Picardo said.

“There is no legal or political right to ask for Gibraltar back now.”

“Just because a third party now asserts a bare claim to our territory, this does not mean that there is a ‘sovereignty dispute’ in relation to Gibraltar.”

There is “only the inalienable legal right or political right of the people of Gibraltar” to decide the future of their territory, Mr Picardo said, adding that the C24 will either “recognise it now or recognise it in the future”.

Repeating his words from the past, Mr Picardo said anyone who “thought otherwise needed to wake up and smell the coffee”.

With a general election coming up later this year, Mr Picardo said that if this was the last time he was able to address the C24 as the leader of the Gibraltarians, he will do so “in terms that cannot be misunderstood”.

“Gibraltar belongs to the Gibraltarians,” Mr Picardo said.

“Full stop.”

“And if anyone doesn’t like it, they can lump it.”

“Because that is not going to change.”

“There is nothing more to it.”

“And anyone who wants to argue otherwise will have to go through me and my colleagues and my compatriots.”

“Whilst I have breath in my body, whatever station I may hold in life, I will be there to fight for Gibraltar and the Gibraltarians.”

“As will every Gibraltarian.”

“For the Gibraltarians are as immovable as our Rock itself.”

“So good luck to any who think they can impose their own sovereignty on us against our wishes.”

“We will see them all off.”

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